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A Cedar of Lebanon

 

The past week has been a difficult one for the members of University Baptist Church.  Last Friday, we eulogized Curtis Kinchen, one of our charter members and one of the Godliest men that I have ever met.  For those of you that never had the privilege of meeting him, Curtis was one of those rare souls who talked the talk AND walked the walk.  He practiced what he preached and in a world full of counterfeits, Curtis was the genuine article.  He had this unique knack for making you feel like you were the most important person in the room whenever he was speaking to you, no matter if there were 10 or 100 other people around you.  He loved his Lord and served Him well.  He loved Marie.  He loved his family.  He loved his church.  For those of us that had the distinct honor of knowing him, we are all the better for it.  University Baptist Church is stronger because Curtis Kinchen was a part of it, and I am a better pastor for having him in my life.  As I said at his funeral, the life of a man is often measured in part by the impact that he had on the lives of others.  There is no doubt that Curtis left an impact the size of a crater on those around him.  Leaving people better than you found them.  Leaving them thinking of Christ.  That was Curtis’ legacy.  That is a legacy worth following.

 

As I’ve been thinking about Curtis and his legacy, the Lord led me to a passage of scripture which I think describes Curtis to a tee.  It is found in Psalm 92:12-15:

 

The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God.  They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.” (NIV)

The word flourish, as used in this passage, means “to be vigorous, to flourish richly.”  Both the stately date palm and cedar trees were highly valued by people in the Near East, the palm for its fruit and the cedar for its wood.  Both were appreciated for their beauty, and both trees can survive for many years.  While not all godly people live long, generally speaking, those who obey God often avoid a great deal of the danger and disease that can cause an early death.  This was certainly true of Curtis, who lived one day shy of his 94th 
birthday and who was still “bearing fruit” until his very last breath.  I can’t begin to describe the ways that he poured into me whenever I would visit him.  It’s just who he was.  He loved his pastor, and he was a continual source of encouragement in my life.  Many of you likely have countless stories of how he poured into you as well.  We often change as we grow older, as Curtis did, but we can be assured that the Lord never changed.  He is our Rock, and what He wills for us is perfect, so we should not complain.  That’s one thing that always amazed me about Curtis.  He never complained, even as he grew more frail.  He would always tell me the same thing, “Just don’t rush me.” 

 

Well, no one is rushing Curtis today.  He is finally in the presence of the One that he served so well for the better part of nearly 94 years.  There is no more pain.  There are no tears.  There is only joy for him.  Sure, we grieve.  But we do not grieve as those who do not have hope.  We have hope.  And we have our memories.  Memories of someone who was like a giant cedar that flourished and lived to a good old age.  Because of his love for Jesus, he made everyone around him better.  That was his legacy.

 

What’s your legacy?  What will people remember when you leave this earth?  Are you pouring into people now and leaving their lives better than when you found them?  Will people remember you as a cedar of Lebanon that flourished?  Curtis flourished because he made the Lord his Rock, the foundation of his life.  Are you doing that too? 

 

As I said at his funeral, I’m thankful that there are no goodbyes for Christians.  Only “see you laters”.  See you later, my friend.  I miss you, but I am so eternally thankful that the Lord saw fit to place you in my life.

 

I Love You,

 

JP

 

Curtis Kinchen TeachingBro Curtis Close Up